Thyroid Cancer Types, Stages, Signs, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnostic Procedures, Treatment, Best Specialists & Doctors
Thyroid Cancer-Cancer that develops in the cells of the thyroid is known as thyroid cancer. Thyroid is a gland that is located at the base of the neck below Adam’s apple and resembles a butterfly. It releases hormones that help in regulating heart rate, body temperature, weight and blood pressure.
Thyroid cancer may not show any signs and symptoms in its initial stages but as it develops, it may cause pain and swelling in the neck. Our experts at Yashoda Superspeciality Hospital & Cancer Institute, Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad, are ever willing to share the information you need about thyroid cancer. We acknowledge the fact that any cancer may be a serious threat to life and knowing and making people aware about it is a motive of our Preventive Oncology Program.
Types of thyroid cancer
Classification of the types of thyroid cancer is based on the kinds of cells present in the tumor. The type of cancer will determine what kind of treatment and prognosis you may require. Thyroid cancer may be classified into following types:
Papillary thyroid cancer- This cancer originates from follicular cells- cells producing and storing thyroid hormones, and is generally the most common type of thyroid cancer. This cancer may develop at any age but is generally found to be in persons between ages 30 to 50.
Follicular thyroid cancer- This cancer also originates from the follicular cells of the thyroid generally affecting persons older than age 50. Hurthle cell cancer is a rare type of follicular thyroid cancer that is aggressive.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer- This is a rare type of thyroid cancer that originates in the follicular cells and generally affects persons aged 60 and above. This cancer is difficult to treat and grows at a higher rate.
Medullary thyroid cancer- This cancer originates in thyroid cells, known as C-cells that produce calcitonin hormone. The higher presence of calcitonin in the blood may be helpful in indicating Medullary thyroid cancer at an early stage.
Other types of thyroid cancers include thyroid lymphoma which originates in the immune system cells of the thyroid, and thyroid sarcoma which originates in the connective tissue cells of the thyroid.
Risk Factors of thyroid cancer
There are various factors that may increase one’s chances of having thyroid cancer. Some of them include:
- Personal history of enlarged thyroid or goitre
- Family history of thyroid cancer or thyroid disease
- Persons aged between 25 to 65
- Any past exposure to radiation to the head and neck as a child or an infant or an exposure to radiation fallout
- Women are more subjected to this cancer
- Certain genetic conditions such as Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2A Syndrome (MEN2A), Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2B Syndrome (MEN2B, or Familial Medullary Thyroid Cancer (FMTC)
Signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer may not show any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Doctors at Yashoda Superspeciality Hospital & Cancer Institute, Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad, always suggest consulting your doctor in case of any of the signs and symptoms that are as follows:
- Any change in voice and/or increasing hoarseness
- Presence of a nodule or lump that may be felt through the skin of the neck
- Having pain in the neck and throat
- Presence of swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Difficulty in swallowing
Diagnostic procedures for thyroid cancer
The Head and Neck Oncology Department at Yashoda Superspeciality Hospital & Cancer Institute, Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad, provides you all the care and support you may require during the process of diagnosis and treatment of the cancer. The diagnostic procedures include:
- The doctor may inspect your neck to feel for any physical changes in the thyroid, such as thyroid nodules. S/he may also ask about your family history of thyroid tumors or may ask your personal history of any exposure to radiation.
- Blood tests may be recommended as these tests indicate if the thyroid gland is functioning normally.
- Ultrasound imaging may be used in which sound of high-frequency waves are used to obtain the images of body structures. This test helps the doctor in determining whether the thyroid nodule is at risk of being cancerous or noncancerous.
- Doctors may also conduct a biopsy in which a sample of thyroid tissue is removed to determine the presence of any cancer cells. In fine-needle aspiration biopsy, a long and thin needle is inserted through the skin into the thyroid nodule.
- Doctors may recommend other imaging tests such as CT and MRI scan to examine whether the cancer has travelled to other parts beyond the thyroid. Nuclear imaging tests may also be used in which a radioactive form of iodine is used.
- Genetic testing may be done to look out for genes that increase the risk of cancer.
After the doctor has confirmed the presence of thyroid cancer, he or she will diagnose the stage of the cancer.
Stages of thyroid cancer
Stages of thyroid cancer for papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients younger than 55 years:
Stage I- In this stage, the tumor may be of any size and may have travelled to nearby lymph nodes and tissues. The cancer has not yet travelled to other parts of the body.
Stage II- In this stage, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to nearby lymph nodes, including other parts of the body such as bones or lungs.
Stages of thyroid cancer for papillary and follicular cancer in patients aged 55 years and older:
Stage I- In this stage, the tumor is smaller or equal to 4 cm while the cancer is limited to the thyroid only.
Stage II- This stage may be characterized in 3 ways-
- When the tumor is 4 cm or less while the cancer is limited to thyroid or may have travelled to nearby lymph nodes.
- When the tumor is larger than 4 cm while the cancer has travelled to nearby lymph nodes.
- When the tumor is of any size and the cancer has travelled to nearby muscles in the neck and nearby lymph nodes.
Stage III- In this stage, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer has travelled from the thyroid to soft tissue beneath the skin, the trachea, the esophagus or to the nerve that goes to the larynx, known as recurrent laryngeal nerve.
Stage IV- This stage may be divided into sub-stages, IVA and IVB.
In Stage IVA, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to tissues in front to the spine or may have reached to blood vessel in the carotid artery between the lungs.
In Stage IVB, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to other parts of the body such as bones and lungs.
Stages of thyroid cancer for anaplastic thyroid cancer in patients of all ages:
It generally develops quickly and having already travelled within the neck when diagnosed. This is considered Stage IV and is divided into 3 sub-stages:
In Stage IVA, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may be limited to the thyroid.
Stage IVB may be characterised in 3 ways-
- When the tumor is of any size while the cancer is limited to the thyroid or has travelled to the nearby nodes.
- When the tumor is of any size while the cancer has travelled to nearby muscles in the neck or to the neighbouring lymph nodes.
- When the tumor is of any size while the cancer may have travelled to soft tissues beneath the skin, trachea, esophagus or the nerve that goes to the larynx, known as recurrent laryngeal nerve, or when the cancer has reached the blood vessels in the carotid artery.
In Stage IVC, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to other areas of the body such as bones or lungs.
Stages of thyroid cancer for medullary thyroid cancer in patients of all ages:
Stage I– In this stage, the tumor is equal to or less than 2 cm while the cancer is limited to the thyroid only.
Stage II- In this stage, either the tumor may be larger than 2 cm and the cancer is limited to the thyroid only or the tumor may be of any size while the cancer has travelled to the nearby muscles in the neck.
Stage III- In this stage, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to nearby muscles in the neck or have travelled to lymph nodes on either one or both the sides of the trachea or larynx.
Stage IV- This stage is divided into sub-stages IVA, IVB and IVC.
Stage IVA may be characterized in the following ways-
- When the tumor is of any size and the cancer has travelled to the soft tissue beneath the skin, trachea, esophagus or the nerve that goes to the larynx, known as recurrent laryngeal nerve, and either one or both sides of the neck.
- When the tumor is of any size and the cancer may have reached the nearby muscles in the neck.
In Stage IVB, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to the tissues lying in front of the spine or has reached the blood vessels in the carotid artery.
In Stage IVC, the tumor may be of any size while the cancer may have travelled to other areas of the body such as liver and lungs.
Based on the type of thyroid cancer, its stage and size of the tumor, doctors will design the type of treatment you require.
Treatment of thyroid cancer
Specialists at Yashoda Superspeciality Hospital & Cancer Institute, Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad, are well versed having years of experience in designing the best treatment for thyroid cancer and treating it through the help of highly and technologically advanced machines. They are always eager to guide and support you throughout your treatment. The types of treatment that may be used to treat thyroid cancer are:
Surgery- Doctors may use different types of surgery to treat thyroid cancer. These may include-
- Thyroidectomy in which either all of the thyroid tissues of the thyroid gland may be removed, known as total thyroidectomy, or most of the thyroid tissues may be removed, known as near-total thyroidectomy.
- Thyroid lobectomy in which the doctor may remove half of the thyroid.
- Lymph node dissection in which the doctor may remove the thyroid including the nearby lymph nodes in the neck.
Thyroid hormone therapy- Doctors may recommend you to take thyroid hormone medication levothyroxine, such as Levoxyl, Synthroid, for life after the surgery, thyroidectomy. The medication helps in suppressing the formation of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), as high levels of TSH may stimulate the remaining cancer cells to grow, and helps in supplying the missing hormone that your thyroid was producing normally.
Radioactive iodine- In this treatment, high doses of a form of iodine, which is radioactive, is used. This treatment is done generally after thyroidectomy, in order to kill the remaining healthy thyroid tissues and the microscopic areas of thyroid cancer that could not be removed during surgery. This treatment may also be used to treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or has recurred after treatment.
Although most of the radioactive iodine leaves the body through urine, this treatment may cause symptoms like change in smell and taste, eye inflammation and dry mouth.
External radiation therapy- In this treatment, high doses of energy waves are targeted at the site of cancer through advanced and heavy machines from outside the body. This therapy is recommended if the doctor suspects the cancer to recur or when surgery may not help in treating the cancer.
Chemotherapy- In this treatment, drugs are used to destroy the cancer cells. This may be done by injecting the drug through your vein or through pill form or both. This treatment is generally used for treating anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Targeted drug therapy- In this treatment, drugs are given to target the specific proteins and genes of the cancer cells causing the cancer cells to die.
Want to consult a specialist of thyroid cancer at Delhi NCR?
The Head and Cancer Oncology Department at Yashoda Superspeciality Hospital & Cancer Institute, Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad, has a very talented and dedicated team that are highly experienced in treatment of thyroid cancer. With our technologically advanced machines, our specialists offer you top class services and provide care and support throughout the treatment.
Dr. (Maj. Gen.) B. N. Kapur is one of the most experienced medical oncologists and is the Director of Medical Oncology at Yashoda. He has received his medical oncology training at the Tata Medical Hospital, Mumbai and has served in the army for more than 36 years and has received many awards in the field of Hematology and Oncology. He is highly skilled in treating solid organ cancer using advanced therapies.
Dr. (Brig.) Arvind Kumar Tyagi has an experience of more than 30 years and is the Director of Surgical Oncology at Yashoda. He has done his training and received his fellowship from the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. He has had a marvellous career in the armed forces serving for almost 30 years and has been practicing as a surgical oncologist in different Armed Forces Hospitals all over India.